Lands of darkness

Continuing tumult in the Middle East shows how difficult it is to establish democratic values in countries with no history of self-rule.

The so-called Arab Spring keeps turning darker for those naive souls who thought that angry crowds in the streets of Cairo, Tripoli and Damascus heralded the rise of democracy in the Middle East.

The latest worm to turn came in Cairo, where the Egyptian military has toppled the nation's first democratically elected president as he was in the midst of turning the country into a theocratic, authoritarian regime.

Now backers of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi are in the process of trying to turn their revolt against the military usurpers into a nationwide civil war. Meanwhile, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, whose resignation President Obama has demanded, appears to be winning his civil war against a coalition of forces seeking his ouster.

Libya remains a mess. Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons while repeatedly promising to destroy Israel, the region's only democracy.

This chaos should surprise no one. Almost none of the countries in this region have any history of democratic traditions. In their world, the strong dominate the weak in ways most Americans cannot imagine. What we're witnessing is just more of the same. The Egyptian military intervened to oust a would-be dictator and will replace him with a slightly less ruthless and slightly less dominating regime. It's the way of the world in that part of the world.

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